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Kurdish militant’s photos ‘dragged by Turkish police’ spark furor

Images on social media appeared to show the body of Birlik, 24, being dragged by the neck behind an armoured vehicle through the streets of Sirnak

Published: Updated:

The apparent dragging of the corpse of an alleged Kurdish militant through the streets of a Turkish city by security forces has outraged activists, with the main Kurdish party leader calling on the interior minister to resign.

Haci Lokman Birlik, brother-in-law of a lawmaker from the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democracy Party (HDP), was killed during clashes between Turkish security forces and the youth wing of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) overnight Friday in the southeastern Sirnak province.

Images on social media appeared to show the body of Birlik, 24, being dragged by the neck behind an armoured vehicle through the streets of Sirnak.

HDP leader Selahattin Demirtas called on the interior minister Selami Altinok to resign, calling the act “inhumane and barbaric.”

“If the interior minister had any dignity, any honour, he would resign,” Turkish media Wednesday quoted Demirtas as telling reporters in Istanbul.

“At least if he resigned, it would mean that he had taken a stand against such barbarity. But they have no honour,” he said.

Video footage also emerged on Sunday purporting to show the body of Birlik being pulled while one police officer is heard swearing at the victim and the other congratulating his colleague for killing the man.

Pro-government media, which initially questioned the authenticity of the images, claimed that the body was being “checked for bombs.”

Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said he disapproved of the images despite the fact that the victim was a “terrorist who attacked the police with rocket launchers.”

“It’s unacceptable to treat any corpse this way, even if it is a dead terrorist,” Davutoglu said, promising an investigation.

The Turkish government has been waging a relentless offensive aimed at crippling the PKK, which has staged a string of attacks in Turkey since a two-year-old ceasefire fell apart in late July.

More than 140 soldiers and police have been killed in PKK bombings and shootings since the return to open conflict, compared with around 1,700 militants, almost all from the PKK, state-run Anatolia news agency said Tuesday.

The HDP says dozens of civilians have been killed in police and military operations -- charges denied by the government.

The escalation comes ahead of snap parliament elections on November 1.